The Stars of Social Media

Derek Sivers (of CD Baby) sent me an article today which documents the phenomenal success of certain CD Baby artists – achieved purely on the back of viral exposure on sites such as MySpace. On one level, this might seem to corroborate the findings of Duncan Watts’ study, covered in a previous post on this blog. However, I think it primarily illustrates the importance of having a promotional angle – something that can be described succinctly, sets you apart and which hooks people in to what you are doing.

In the case of Jonathan Coulton, he set himself a challenge of writing and recording a new song every week, which he then posted on his blog. Halfway through last year, his fanbase had grown to include more than 3,000 visitors a day and he was making a decent living off his own music sales. He interacts directly with his fans, to such and extent that he spends several hours every day responding to emails, and instead of going on tour, he picks out towns where he knows he has enough fans to fill a local venue, and goes to them to play.

As another example, a low-quality video of the band OK Go dancing on treadmills generated 15 million views on YouTube – a phenomenal reach for any marketing campaign. It seems that the potential of online social marketing knows no bounds, and is only increasing in power – but are we any closer to knowing how to predict the hits?


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